CASARES, Spain (AP) — Paul Casey is trying to shrug off a rib injury that could trouble his chances at the new-look World Match Play Championship.
The Englishman, who won the event in 2006, said Wednesday that his rib area was tender and tight as he gets ready to play a full event for the first time since July.
“Trouble is, there’s no way really of testing it until I’m out here in the mix playing golf,” Casey said at Finca Cortesin golf course, which is hosting for the first time.
Casey is scheduled to open play Thursday against Scott Strange, while 16 players including Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Masters champion Angel Cabrera are all in action. Casey will also play two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and Anthony Kim in Group A.
Injuries could be a factor in a tournament that has transformed from a straight knockout to a round-robin group format where the four winners will advance to Saturday’s 36-hole semifinals.
Sunday’s final will also be 36 holes.
Martin Kaymer arrived with broken toes from a kart racing accident, Oliver Wilson has a neck problem and Jeev Milkha Singh of India is also experiencing foot troubles.
Kaymer and Wilson meet in Group B, which also includes Garcia and Robert Allenby.
Westwood comes into the head-to-head competition at the top of the European Tour money list following his first win in two years at the Castello Masters. The Englishman, No. 5 in the world, is the top-ranked player in Group D, which also includes Milkha Singh, Camilo Villegas and Ross Fisher.
The $1.1 million winner’s check would certainly help Westwood secure the top spot in the Race to Dubai standings. Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Casey are also in the chase with three events remaining.
“It is now in my hands. If I win all of the tournaments, it will be impossible for anybody to get past me,” Westwood said. “It’s as good a chance as I’ve had all year really and it’s as good a position as I’ve been in all year.”
Henrik Stenson leads Group C, where the seventh-ranked Swede opens against Simon Dyson. McIlroy gets Cabrera.
This year’s event moved to Spain after being held in Wentworth, England, since 1964, although last year it was not played. Ernie Els won’t be defending his title due to a contractual obligation to play at the Singapore Open.
The event is replacing the Volvo Masters on the calendar after the usual end-of-season event turned into the Race to Dubai.